Orange County nonprofit begins blanket drive

Group wants to help homeless

To help those in need combat dropping temperatures, one county organization is working to keep area shelters warm during the winter weather.

Blanket Orange County, a nonprofit organization, kicked off its seventh annual blanket drive Monday and hopes to collect 400 new and used blankets for local shelters — more than the group has ever collected before.

Six drop-off locations will be collecting donated blankets until Dec. 3, but monetary donations will also be accepted.

“It’s getting mighty cold,” said Jan Bolick, director of the organization. “I’m hoping that this week we get 150, and if we are nowhere near 150, then I know that we need to step things up.”

This year, the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, Neighbor House of Hillsborough and Maggie Alvis Halfway House will distribute the collected blankets throughout the community.

Chris Moran, executive director of IFC, said donating blankets is a very specific thing people can do to help those in need.

“We need every helping hand in order to do our job effectively,” Moran said.

The council has been involved in six of the seven blanket drives and requested 300 blankets last year.

Despite the initial shock of the high request, Bolick said the group collected 366 blankets.

The leftover blankets were given to the Chapel Hill Ronald McDonald House and people living in outdoor camps, while blankets in poor condition were donated to the animal shelter.

“It was very rewarding because last year we went way over our goal, and a couple of families got burned out of their homes right near Christmas,” Bolick said. “We were able to give them their choice of which blankets could help them and their children the most.”

Bolick started Blanket Orange County in 2004 as the leader of the Women’s Roundtable. The roundtable is a forum in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce through which female business owners and managers meet once a month to discuss different business practices and concerns.

Bolick said she and her colleagues wanted to do a project for the community and realized there were no initiatives for helping people get blankets.

They collected 57 blankets the first year, and most of them went to the Freedom House Recovery Center.

Annette Autry-Corbett, program director of Maggie Alvis Halfway House, said running a house with 10 to 12 people living in it makes adjusting the temperature more difficult, and the donations are appreciated.

“We can always use blankets,” she said. “You can’t keep enough of them.”

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